It would be as needless, as impertinent, to anticipate the reflections which will arise in reading the above account, wherein a regard to accuracy only has been consulted. By comparing it with the mode of administering justice in the English courts of law, it will be found to differ in many points very essentially. And if we turn our eyes to the usage of military tribunals, it no less departs from the customs observed in them. Let not the novelty of it, however, prejudice any one so far as to dispute its efficacy, and the necessity of the case which gave it birth.
The court, whose meeting is already spoken of, proceeded to the trial of three convicts, one of whom was convicted of having struck a marine with a cooper’s adze, and otherwise behaving in a very riotous and scandalous manner, for which he was sentenced to receive one hundred and fifty lashes, being a smaller punishment than a soldier in a like case would have suffered from the judgement of a court martial. A second, for having committed a petty theft, was sent to a small barren island, and kept there on bread and water only, for a week. And the third was sentenced to receive fifty lashes, but was recommended by the court to the Governor, and forgiven.
Hitherto, however, (February) nothing of a very atrocious nature had appeared. But the day was at hand, on which the violation of public security could no longer be restrained, by the infliction of temporary punishment. A set of desperate and hardened villains leagued themselves for the purposes of depredation, and, as it generally happens, had art enough to persuade some others, less deeply versed in iniquity, to be the instruments for carrying it on. Fortunately the progress of these miscreants was not of long duration. They were detected in stealing a large quantity of provisions at the time of issuing them. And on being apprehended, one of the tools of the superiors impeached the rest, and disclosed the scheme. The trial came on the 28th of the month, and of four who were arraigned for the offence, three were condemned to die, and the fourth to receive a very severe corporal punishment. In hopes that his lenity would not be abused, his Excellency was, however, pleased to order one only for execution, which took place a little before sun-set the same day. The name of the unhappy wretch was Thomas Barret, an old and desperate offender, who died with that hardy spirit, which too often is found in the worst and most abandoned class of men. During the execution the battalion of marines was under arms, and the whole of the convicts obliged to be present. The two associates of the sufferer were ordered to be kept close prisoners, until an eligible place to banish them to could be fixed on; as were also two more, who on the following day were condemned to die for a similar offence.